The subjectivity of writing.

It never ceases to amaze me how SUBJECTIVE writing can be. Case in point: contest judging reports and scores.

I have entered my fair share of romance contests, basically because it is an easy way to get your work in front of industry people. And hey, if they like it, you may not only win, but get a call from a publisher. This is what happened to me and why my first romance novel will be coming up for sale soon. But more about that in a later blog.

Recently, I was a finalist in a major writing competition. Major. Which was thrilling enough. Now, I didn’t win, which is fine, but when I got my scores back it almost looked like two different entries were judged. One score was a solid A, the second barely a C.

Same piece of writing.

The comments on the score sheets were diametrically opposed as well, with one person telling me how they were engaged from the first paragraph, the second stating I spent too much time on backstory ( 1 Paragraph!) and my characters were wooden. Reader one told me the characters and dialogue were life-like. Reader two wrote that I needed to listen to how people spoke in real life to get a better feel for dialogue.

Crazy!

I wonder if this abject subjectivity is  one of the reasons so many novelists are self publishing these days. I’ve read some AMAZING self published books and wondered why in heck they weren’t represented by a major 5 house. I’ve also read some terrrrrrrrrible self pub’d books and known why they weren’t.

That subjectivity is mine, I realize that, but I cross genres in romance. I like to read Regency, Paranormal, Contemporary and Suspense. If the story is sound, the plot captivating and the characters relatable, it shouldn’t matter what the genre is, if the book is good.

So, back to the contest scores.

I’m done entering contests for now. I need to devote myself to the edits that are coming my way from my publisher and editor ( and don’t I love saying that!). But for all the writers who are still entering contests in the hopes of capturing a publisher’s or and editor’s eye – DON’T STOP. Even though subjectivity may abound, if the overall scores are consistent and the critiques worthwhile, this is a valuable way to get your work seen and to receive – usually – valid feedback.

I’m still wondering if my scores were mixed up. Oh well.

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Filed under Characters, Dialogue, Editors

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